The Nuh straws in the wind : The Tribune India

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The Nuh straws in the wind

Dangerous portent of what is in store for society in an era of militant religious polarisation

The Nuh straws in the wind

WARNING: It is a zero-sum game, which only results in death and destruction. PTI



Rajesh Ramachandran

THE unfortunate communal riots in Nuh have thrown up a clutch of straws in the wind. An electorally weak situation often necessitates communal polarisation for certain incumbents. Haryana’s state of affairs does not afford any comfort for the BJP, which may find its nine-year-old double-engine anti-incumbency debilitating, to say the least. The Vishva Hindu Parishad-Bajrang Dal shobha yatra should be seen and understood in this context. This aggressive communal ingress into the only Muslim-dominated district of Haryana is no age-old practice, but had begun just three years ago as a show of strength.

It may be difficult to find another Neeraj Khan — the Muslim home guard with a Hindu name who got killed by the Muslim mob — to guard a real shobha yatra of love, if one were to take place.

Hindutva shock troops have always been the BJP’s force multipliers. So, any attempt at communal polarisation by Parivar organisations — permitted by the police — will only be seen as an attempt at mobilisation for the BJP. And there was a deliberate build-up of hate speech for the shobha yatra, particularly with double murder accused cow vigilante Monu Manesar announcing on social media his plan to be present during the procession. Two cattle traders from Rajasthan, Nasir and Junaid, were tortured and burnt alive in their vehicle in Haryana in February. The prime accused, Monu Manesar, is still at large and the Rajasthan police were complaining of lack of cooperation of their Haryana counterparts.

If the first straw in the wind is the BJP seemingly losing ground in the battle for Haryana’s 10 Lok Sabha seats in less than a year, the second one is a dangerous portent of what is in store for society during an era of militant religious polarisation. Unlike the police, Muslim mobsters were well prepared for Monu Manesar’s social media threats and the VHP-Bajrang Dal’s show of strength. As the Hindu mob brandishing swords, sticks and other weapons entered the town’s alleys, it was greeted by a Muslim mob ready to kill, maim and burn. Abhishek Chauhan and Pradeep Sharma, two Bajrang Dal activists, were killed — one was shot and then his throat was slit — and two home guards, too, fell prey to the marauding Muslim mob.

That a Hindu mob would be met with an equally or more violent Muslim mob even in times of a double-engine government should now act as a deterrent for all those attempting a needlessly militant flexing of muscles. Sure, the lasting impact would be a bitter reprisal against the Muslims who attacked the Hindu mob. Soon, a mosque was torched and a priest killed and then the illegal shanties of alleged rioters were razed. But those subsequent actions do not take away the import of the initial rush of violence of a cornered community. This is a grave sign of desperation and all potential troublemakers better heed this warning. It is a zero-sum game, which only results in death and destruction.

Nuh is part of the old Mewat region that holds a special place in the new nation’s history. Mahatma Gandhi had visited Ghasera village in Nuh during the peak of the Partition riots to tell the fleeing Muslims not to leave India. His last fast to protect the minorities of India and Pakistan brought peace in Delhi, and then his martyrdom brought lasting communal peace for Indian Muslims. But now Gandhi is being proven wrong and Ambedkar, who argued for the complete exchange of the minorities between India and Pakistan, is being proven right. And one of the biggest reasons for this is the ghettoisation of the electoral process and the minds of Muslims left at the mercy of regressive religious leaders who, in turn, became vote contractors.

These communal vote contractors, who offer their services to the highest bidder, also get political patronage and police protection to run their illicit businesses with complete impunity. One of these is sand and rubble mining for the insatiable real estate industry in neighbouring Gurugram. The political economy aspect of cow vigilantism (‘Of Cows and Quarries’, Nous India, July 23, 2022) is the attempt by wannabe Hindu vote contractors trying to grab this lucrative business away from their established Muslim counterparts. In fact, not far away from the epicentre of violence, was where Deputy Superintendent of Police Surender Singh was murdered by sand smugglers last year at Tauru in Nuh. The backward Muslims of Nuh have graduated from sand smuggling to cybercrimes. This is the contribution of identity politics by so-called secular parties to a community living in the National Capital Region. The only Muslim-majority district in this region is now one of India’s biggest hubs of cybercriminals. That was definitely not Gandhi’s idea when he asked Meo Muslims to stay back.

Unsurprisingly, the first target of the Muslim mob after it attacked the Hindu mob was the cyber police station of Nuh. Just over three months ago, about 5,000 policemen had raided 14 villages, detained nearly 125 and arrested 66 cyber hackers who had stolen over Rs 100 crore from around 28,000 people. So, a communal conflagration helped the vote contractors to set an inconvenient police station on fire, proving that clashes have more than just electoral beneficiaries and polarising reasons. It almost appears as if the VHP-Bajrang Dal procession walked into a trap laid by the Islamists of Nuh, thereby getting more than what it had asked for. And the collateral damage has been immense. A judge and her three-year-old daughter have survived to tell a scary tale for the rest of their lives. But the worst off are the poor Muslim migrant workers of Gurugram, who are fleeing the millennial city of primitive resentments.

Soon, some semblance of normalcy will be restored and once the election season gets over, the perpetrators will forget everything about their deeds. But these wounds will not heal. They’ll fester. It may be difficult to find another Neeraj Khan — the Muslim home guard with a Hindu name who got killed by the Muslim mob — to guard a real shobha yatra of love, if one were to take place. This is the sad irony of Indian modernity.

#BJP #Nuh


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